The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has given reasons why convicted Senator and former Governor of Abia, Orji Kalu, cannot be granted bail.
Kalu on Tuesday prayed a Federal High Court in Lagos to grant him bail from the Ikoyi Custodial Centre pending the determination of an appeal against his conviction.
Justice Mohammed Idris had convicted Kalu and sentenced him to a concurrent jail term of 12 years for N7.2 billion fraud.
The EFCC prosecuted Kalu together with a former Commissioner for Finance in Abia, Jones Udeogo, and Kalu’s company, Slok Nig. Ltd.
They were charged on an amended 39 counts of fraud.
The trial, which started in 2007, recorded some set backs but eventually ended in October 2019 when parties in the suit adopted written submissions.
On December 5, the judge found all the three defendants guilty.
He found Kalu and Slok Nig. Ltd. guilty of all the 39 counts of the charge, and convicted Udeogo on 34 counts.
Idris sentenced Udeogo to a concurrent 10 years’ jail term and ordered that Slok Nig. Ltd be wound up and all its assets forfeited to the Federal Government.
On Tuesday, Kalu’s counsel, Mr Lateef Fagbemi (SAN) informed the court of a bail application he filed on behalf of the former governor, seeking to be released on bail pending the outcome of his appeal against the judgement.
However, EFCC counsel, Mr RotimI Jacobs (SAN), opposed the bail application.
“Although bail is generally a right of an accused as guaranteed by the Constitution, it is not a right available to a convict because the presumption of innocence had crystallised into guilt and conviction,” he said.
According to Jacobs, an application for bail pending appeal is sparingly granted.
He said that such a bail could be granted in a situation where the term of imprisonment would have elapsed before determination of the appeal.
He argued that that was not the situation with Kalu’s case.
On Kalu’s health condition, Jacobs said that there was no recent medical report to show his state of health, arguing that the medical report tendered in his case was done more than a year ago.
Jacobs added that the request by Kalu to be released on bail so as to seek traditional medicine was not tenable, as visitors were allowed into the custodial centre.
“He says he needs his herbalist to treat him but he has not said that his herbalist came to the prison and was not allowed to see him.
“In one breath, the applicant is saying that he wants to be released on health grounds while in another breath, he is saying that as a senator, he needs to be released on bail so as to carryout his official functions,” he said.
Citing the case of the Federal Republic of Nigeria vs Joshua Dariye, he argued that the Nigerian criminal jurisprudence was robust enough to handle the appeal and dispense with the same within a reasonable time.
Besides, he argued that the medical facilities at the Ikoyi Custodial Centre were capable of handling Kalu’s medical condition.
Liman adjourned the case until Dec. 23 for ruling on the bail application.